Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Sweet Pickings

The rhythm of the garden is surging and right now magnificent.
The home harvest brings the challenge of making sure the excess is well preserved.
But if we do not get above average rainfall this autumn Victorian growers will really be pushed to the limit.

The prune plums attained their glory and are now dried and stashed along with the dried Granny Smiths. There is a glut of cucumbers so some pickles are on the cards.

.The melons are getting to a decent size and preservation recipes are being collected, perhaps a Callison-style sweetmeat with the new honey?

Last week was full-on beginning with preparation for our Melbourne Food and Wine Festival lunch. The itch slowly faded as Diane and I became completely immersed in the menu planning and set up.
A very capable crew assembled with Anton of la Madre fame, helping in the kitchen. Denis oven builder and resident honorary health and safety officer, on oven and sink. Ella and Kathleen, new faces on the floor. With Lea [Mr.T Spoon, the coffee magician] Ingrid back from 7 years of un-paid long-service leave and Di leading the floor.
All intentions of capturing the day on the camera quickly dissolved into the bustle of the prep and service.
The menu is like a jigsaw always finalised on the day.
The bread was made with a long slow Biga fermented overnight.
Katos came good with some very fresh local Snapper which we flashed in the wood oven with a salad of home grown garlic, purslane, fennel, rock samphire and a dressing made by Di using the last of our Arbequina EVO.
Gosling Creek Reisling 2006 Murroon.
This was followed by a selection of antipasto-

House made panir [the only photo I took]
Garden fresh cucumbers, perilla and pepper.
Skipton smoked eel with an anchoiade de Croze and Leeks.
A haricot bean salad with a smokey mustard dressing.
A confit of wild rabbit and Western Plains pork with spiced morello cherries served with finely grated Granny Smiths that had just ripened last week.

The prep started early with the beef slowly braised in the wood oven with a sofrito enhanced with orange zest. The bones removed much to the delight of the four leggeds exiled to the canine stalag for the day. Narelle is not to be trusted and Barbie is a bit bewildered these days and can’t hear the cars.
The tomatoes for the salad came good at the last minute and now we are picking 3 to four buckets a day for the year’s supply of tomato sauce. The spuds came from one of our neighbours.
Innisfail Cab merlot 2004 and Farr Rising Shiraz 2005.

Poached white nectarines and plums served with a buttermilk Bavarois

Fizz with a white peach granita.

I apologise for some of the chairs the new ones will be here soon.


Stephanie said...

George... how did you go with finding a young chef? Man, how I'd like to apply for that job and learn at your elbow.

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Not finalised yet. We have had a couple of good applicants but are still shortlisting [very short list] I am confidant we can find the right person. One of the bonuses is that the person can also have a full life outside the restaurant, so rare these days.
The list of classes is up on the top of the blog but I need to find a more attractive format to post them with.
So if you are in Victoria come along. I have been a little distracted over the last couple of weeks but I keep an eye on your site with interest.

Anonymous said...


sorry for calling so early this am but I just wanted to communicate.

Anyway the meal was spectacular.

The first glass of wine offered was either off or without merit but the we went to Bannockburn and By Farr - both spectacular.

As to the coffee - I am very particular about coffee drinking doppio ristretto. Lately I have been home roasting which is an order of magnitudebetter than anything I have experienced to date not to mention cheaper. Check out coffeesnobs.com.au for more.

The food and wine were great.

Did I mention the service? Grace was wonderful; and had it to burn. I can be difficult if you call knowing what you want difficult but she was helpful, patient and grace-ful.

We will be back!!

Bob Weis